This is the statement released by Davidson County Clerk in anticipation of the NewsChannel 5 investigation, attacking chief investigative reporter Phil Williams while promising reforms in his office.more>>
NewsChannel 5 Investigates:Mayor Requests Audit of Davidson County Clerk's OfficeMore>>
A leading Metro Council member says the Davidson County clerk needs to "man up." Charlie Tygard wants answers that John Arriola refused to give when asked by NewsChannel 5 Investigates.more>>
By Phil Williams Chief Investigative Reporter
NASHVILLE, Tenn.- Nashville Mayor Karl Dean requested an audit of Davidson County Clerk John Arriola's office -- and a leading member of the Metro Council is now demanding that Arriola answer some tough questions.
Both want to know more about cash that Arriola himself may have pocketed and about questionable expenditures of taxpayer money -- issues raised this week by NewsChannel 5 Investigates.
In Dean's letter, he asks the head of Metro's Internal Audit to look at some of those questions.
"Anytime questions of this nature are raised, the Metropolitan Government has an obligation to the taxpayers and citizens of Nashville to thoughtfully and carefully look into the issues," Dean said.
He asks for "a thorough review of all contracts and the procurement processes used by the County Clerk's Office" -- as well as what he calls "the office's cash management procedures."
At the center of our NewsChannel 5 investigation: thousands of dollars charged by the county clerk's staff -- cash only -- for wedding ceremonies performed by Arriola while on taxpayer time -- money that Arriola admits he pocketed.
Plus, there are tens of thousands of dollars in Metro money spent to promote Arriola's name and face.
Among the expenditures: a no-bid contract to a public relations firm that's owned by a longtime friend of Arriola and employs the wife of one of Arriola's top aides.
Metro Council member Charlie Tygard thinks Arriola ought to release his tax returns to prove that he reported those cash wedding fees -- fees that Arriola told us were legal "gratuities."
"If I have to pay it, it's not a gratuity -- I mean, it's a fee," Tygard said.
"If that's going straight into it [his pockets] and it's not been reported to the IRS, then that's a crime. If it has been, then I think that's a poor judgment."